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An Analysis of Contemporary Leadership Approaches

Mgr. Petr Rattay Table of Contents


Introduction What is the Autocratic leadership style Strengths Weaknesses What is the Democratic leadership style Strengths Weaknesses What is Laissez-Faire Style The benefits of Laissez-Faire leadership style The weaknesses of Laissez-Faire leadership style Most effective style within the next twenty five years Conclusion Bibliography Page 2 Page 3 Page 5 Page 6 Page 8 Page 9 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 16 Page 19 Page 20

Vsn 3.0, 24/03/07

An Analysis of Contemporary Leadership Approaches


Introduction
There have been numerous books and articles written on the subject of leadership. The society we are living offers a huge variety of leadership models and as Sanders says, a church that wants to be heard needs leaders who are authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial.1 Some authors call this period of time, an instant era when one is able to achieve anything within a few moments. Although it is more than clear that the instant phenomena can be applied merely in certain areas, there is still a tendency to believe in quick and easy ways in the meaning of business issues including leadership.

This paper deals with Contemporary Leadership Approaches often presented in literature. In addition, it contains an analyses of three styles and describes their strengths and weaknesses. The last part focuses possibly what will be the most effective leadership style in the church within the next twenty five years.

A common way of defining leadership begins with the leader himself. Generally said, there are as many styles to lead as there are leaders. Nevertheless psychologists, leaders and businessmen have described simple ways to define the most significant styles of leadership. Understanding leadership styles helps us to develop our skills and become more effective. I am aware that there are many different frameworks and approaches to the whole theme and all of us are somehow shaped by our own experience, culture and other personal factors.

A common ground for leadership theories have developed into four main groups.2 This paper deals with behavioral theories, meaning what a good leader

Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer (Moody Publishers. Chicago, 2007), p. 18 2 Thomas Egner, Behavioral Leadership: The Managerial Grid (Grin Verlag, 2009), p. 6

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does. The other approaches concerning trait theories, contingency theories and power or influence theories will not be taken into account.

Behavioral theories focus on the behavior of the leader. This theory has its origin in the work of Lewin, Lippitt and White who outlined a framework based on decision-making behavior. According to this framework there are three types of leaders: autocratic leaders, democratic leaders and laissez-faire leaders.3

Leadership style Autocratic Democratic Laissez-faire

Type of power Centralized power rests with a dictatorial leader Some power rests with the leader and some is devolved by staff Power is passed on to the staff

What is Autocratic Leadership Style


To begin, it must be said that the autocratic leadership style is considered an old-fashioned one. According to Cheryl Hamilton the autocratic or as some leaders describe authoritarian leadership style, is similar to the traditional organizational model. Under an authoritarian leader, the team reaches a solution quickly, often makes a few errors, and gets more work accomplished than groups that get bogged down in detailed discussion.4 In this leadership style, the leader is in control and that helps for the solution-making process to be a quick one. Furthermore, it is said that despite a few errors, it is working very well from the accomplishment point of view.

Another description puts an emphasis on the central position of a leader. An autocratic leader is one who tends to centralize authority and derive power

Arthur Shriberg and David Shriberg, Practicing Leadership Principles and Application (Courier Westford, 2011), p. 67 4 Cheryl Hamilton, Communicating for Results: A Guide for Business and the Professions (Wadsworth, Cengage learning, 2008), p. 288

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from position, control of rewards, and coercion.5 The general sense of this description is very clear and puts a strong emphasis on control and reward. The autocratic style is where the leader or manager exercises power in developing policy and making decisions involving the allocation of work and achievement of objectives. Power in this type of set-up is centralized with the autocratic leader.6 Again, the description above clearly states the most significant aspects are in the form of authority and power to make decisions and set goals.

To sum up the most significant ideas we might have a look what Pride, Hughes and Kapoor say about this particular style. The authoritarian leader holds all authority and responsibility, with communication usually from the top to the bottom. This leader assigns workers to specific tasks and expects orderly precise results.7 From all mentioned quotations it is evident the autocratic leadership style is strongly bound to centralization, control and power. For further studies we might even distinguish among three types of autocratic leaders which are discussed below: 8 It is not a surprise that all leadership styles carry some strengths and some weaknesses. First of all, we might describe the strong points of authoritative leadership style.

5 6

Richard L. Daft, The leadership experience (Edward Brothers, 2008), p. 44 Claire Capon, Understanding Strategic Management, (Pearson Education Limited, 2008), p.185 7 William M. Pride, Robert J. Hughes, Jack R. Kapoor, Business (South-Western Cengage Learning, 2008), p. 179 8 M. Sakthivel Murugan, Management Principles and Practices (New Age Inernational Publisher, 2004), p. 333 (a) Strict autocratic leader: He uses negative motivation such as penalties, criticism of subordinates and coercion to influence the behavior of subordinates. Subordinate are insecure, uninformed and afraid of the leaders authority. (b) Blue violent autocrat leader: He centralizes the decision making power in him but houses positive motivation style in the form of taking into account the feelings and needs of subordinates. Blue violent autocrat leader can be effective in achieving high performance and harmonious human relations in many situations. He uses his power to disperse rewards to the group. (c) In competent autocrat leader: He adopts an autocratic style just to hide his incompetence. However, this can not be used for a long time.

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Strength of autocratic leadership style


The strength of this style is leaders God-given ability to choose the right path for an organization as it approaches a critical intersection. Bill Hybels describes A critical intersection is that point when an organization, a department, or a church starts asking, Should we stay the course o r is it time for wholesale change? Should we focus on growth or consolidation? 9

These questions and similar ones are highly significant and might cause a lot of difficulties for an organization. As Hybels suggests a leader with a directional style is able to come up with a solution, he is able to sort out all the options. He or she can carefully assess the values of the organization, the mission, the strengths, the weaknesses, the resources, the personnel, and the openness to change. With remarkable wisdom, the directional leader points the church or sub-ministry in the right direction.10

Even though the autocratic leadership style is necessary in some situations, it is not that simple to announce that the autocratic leader is able to sort out all the options. Situations might occur when the leader does not know the best solution or might not carry it out the best possible way. In some cases there are more aspects playing role into the situation and a leader must take them into account.

Centralized methods of leadership (autocratic leadership) are more appropriate in production-centred departments. When supervising individuals, do not want to get ahead and see a job only as a means to make money to satisfy their personal desires, the autocratic leadership style is often necessary if the job is to be correctly accomplished.11

Bill Hybels, Courageous leadership (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2009), p. 142 Hybels, Courageous leadership, p. 142 11 S. P. Naidu, Public Administration: Concepts and theories (New Age International Publisher, 2005), p. 206
10

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The autocratic leader is faced with an important role when the organization faces a downfall. In this case it is mostly necessary to act very quickly without any delay. This type of approach to leadership is suited to the organization which is in trouble and needs to achieve a rapid turnaround if it is to survive. 12 The autocratic leadership style is suitable in situations when: (i) (ii) (iii) The subordinates are incompetent and inexperienced The leaders wants to be active and dominant in decision making The leader is highly competent for making a right decision. Management 13 The following lines include a specific case when the autocratic leadership is used in a positive way. Richard Daft chose Sonic drive-in restaurants as a concrete example of effective autocratic leadership style. Jack Hartnett, an owner of 54 Sonic drive-in restaurants, provides an example of the autocratic leadership style. The style works well in the fast-food restaurant business when turnover is typically high and many employees are young and low-skilled.14 It is claimed that the key factor is the high turnover and low-skilled employees.

The evidence proves that there are some occasions when an autocratic style of leadership is effective and brings benefits to an organization in spite of the current view on leadership approaches. If the pressure is on for immediate results to ensure success, the autocratic leader is the one who makes the difference.

Weaknesses of autocratic leadership style


Of course there are several weaknesses and limitations of the autocratic leadership style. The main ones are described below. First of all, this style does not offer a large affect in a long term approach. The fact is that the leader achieves fast decisions, but it blocks the subordinates
12 13

Capon, Understanding Strategic Management, p. 185 Murugan, Management Principles And Practices, p. 334 14 Daft, The Leadership experience, p. 44

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in gaining opportunities and experience in their own leadership development. The leader does not offer a chance to learn from their mistakes and finally this approach leads to lower productivity in the long term. After becoming conditioned to receive orders and act upon them perfectly, workers lose initiative and the confidence to make decisions on their own. This results in teams of workers who become useless at running operations if they loose contact with their leader. This is the result of a lack of time dedicated to leadership development on the employees part.15

Another aspect playing a negative role is a presence of hostility. The level of increasing hostility affects the working group probably much more than we can understand from a mathematical point of view. There is a well-known phrase saying that relationships are the glue of a success. But while members of autocratic groups are happy to reach solutions quickly, they tend to display more hostility and are disconnected with their low level of participation. Manz and Sims (2001) found group hostility to be 30 times greater in autocratic teams than democratic teams.16 Another disadvantage is closely related to the leader. When the leader is weak in his leadership skills it makes the situation even worse and him makes it unpopular among the subordinates. On the other hand, the leader might be well skilled with a tendency to take much of the responsibility and involvement. This tendency can lead to long term stress and also to health problems. Of course it also damages the relationships within the organization. 17

Another fact is that people would rather be empowered, instead of ordered; this would imply that they are trusted to accomplish the work. As a

15

Simon Oares, Leadership Styles, <http://www.leadership-expert.co.uk/leadership-styles/> 16 Hamilton, Communicating for Result, p. 288 17 Simon Oares, Leadership Styles

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result, the majority of subordinates experience demotivation and a lack of personal engagement. This applies particularly with the generation Y. 18

Generally said, the autocratic leadership style results in dissatisfaction and in a low morale. Subordinates depend on their leader and they do not get an opportunity to exhibit their capabilities, which is probably the most significant disadvantage of this leadership style.19

In addition, members may develop a dependence on the leader rather than a trust in their own abilities and initiative. Wagner and Hollenbeck (1998) note, In todays project-oriented, team-driven business environment, autocratic leadership is becoming more and more rare.20

Managers are often fairly consistent in following one style or approach to dealing with staff; however, different situations or problems may require a different style of management or leadership, and this should be expected.21

What is democratic leadership style


The democratic style of leadership involves power being shared, as opposed to the autocratic style; power rests with the group as a whole. The leadership will be shared between the group members and the manager of leader, who is often seen as part of a team. Hence there is more interaction within the group between staff and managers. The more devolved nature of the power means group members have a great say in the development of policy, decision making, and in the use of control systems.22 The sharing of responsibility coupled with delegating and continuous consulting are the most

18 19

Simon Oares, Leadership Styles Murugan, Management Principles And Practices, p. 334 20 Hamilton, Communicating for Results, p. 288 21 Capon, Understanding Strategic Management, p. 194 22 Capon, Understanding Strategic Management, p. 185

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important features in this leadership style. Communication is active both ways and therefore plays a very important role. The democratic leader holds final responsibility but also delegates authority to others, who determine work assignments. In this leadership style, communication is active upward and downward. Employee commitment is high because of participation in the decision making process.23 Following are the most significant features in democratic leadership style:

The leader seeks consultation on all important issues and decisions. The leader delegates tasks to the subordinates. The leader gives control and responsibility into hand of his subordinates. The leader listens to feedback and initiatives. The leader encourages and helps others to become leaders.24

Another description by Richard Daft claims that A democratic leader delegates authority to others, encourages participation, relies on subordinates knowledge for completion of tasks, and depends on subordinate respect for influence.25 For better comprehension it is necessary to analyze all the strengths and weaknesses of this style to avoid any wrong conclusions.

The strength of democratic leadership style


There are more strengths in this leadership style than found in the others. The democratic leadership style can motivate employees to work effectively, because they are implementing their own decisions. 26 This fact is probably the most important due to its potential to work on the most profitable level. The following lines describe the most important features:

Hughes, Pride and Kapoor, Business, p. 179 Simon Oares, Leadership Styles 25 Richard L. Daft, The leadership experience, p. 44 26 Hughes, Pride and Kapoor, Business, p. 179
24

23

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High morale: Under this style the enthusiasm of the leaders and the subordinates is sky-high. Both consider each other their well-wishers. This finishes all complaints and bitterness and all start getting the maximum job satisfaction. This also results in the decrease in employees turnover.27 Even though both sides wish each other the best, it is not correct to claim that all complaint and bitterness is finished by this kind of leadership. All experienced leaders know that it is more a question of character and maturity than of leadership style.

Creation of more Efficiency and Productivity: Since the employees are participants in decision making, they give full cooperation in implementing them. In this way their efficiency increases. The employees display their initiative in finding out new techniques for work performance so that the work can be performed better and in less time. Consequently, productivity gets a boost. 28 The process of consultation, feedback and participation in decision making naturally leads to better cooperation and more effectiveness. When something goes wrong there is no reason to hide it, as it might happen in the case of autocratic leadership. The openness in consultation and feedback creates a space for creative thinking. The positive environment creates an atmosphere for new ideas. It is a culture where employees are given a certain responsibility and are positively challenged. This approach helps them and creates enthusiasm and enjoyment in their work. Simon Oates says: The free flow of ideas and positive work environment is the perfect catalyst for creative thinking.29

Reduction of friction: The participative approach allows the democratic leader to use ideas of his subordinates and gain a credit for them. Reducing the amount of tension between the leader and the subordinates plays an important role in the long-term process and helps to avoid any possible conflicts. When

27 28

R. K. Singla, Principles of Management (Prince Print Process: New Delhi, 2009), p. 227 Ibid, p. 227 29 Simon Oares, Leadership Styles

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autocratic leaders refuse to listen to their workers, or blatantly ignore their ideas, they are effectively asking their people to talk behind their back and attempt to undermine or supercede them.30

The last advantage mentioned in this section is the reduced employee turnover. All leaders wish their subordinates to stay together with their team until there is no need to restructure the organization. Therefore, it is very important to focus on feelings and empowerment to name a few factors. When employees feel empowered through leadership development, a company will experience lower rates of employee turnover which has numerous benefits. A company that invests in leadership development for its employees, is investing in their future, and this is appreciated by a large majority of the workforce.31

To sum up this part of advantages it is evident that the democratic leadership style carries the most effective tools concerning long term conditions.

The weaknesses of democratic leadership style


First of all, there is the question of time. The decision making process in democratic leadership takes time that subordinates could be devoting to the work itself.32 It is evident that seeking consultation for every decision is not possible and it definitely slow down the process of decision making. Furthermore, this can cause serious troubles and situations.

The democratic leadership style might cause pseudo-participation. When the leader does not follow the democratic leadership style, but only pretends, it can cause serious tensions and misunderstandings.33

30 31

Simon Oares, Leadership Styles Ibid 32 Pride, Hughes and Kapoor, Business, p. 179 33 Simon Oares, Leadership Styles

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Under democratic style of leadership, group members perform well even when a leader is absent.
34

However, the absence of a leader might cause

completely opposite results, when the group members are not used to this participative style and have no appropriate character or are not mature enough. 35 As a former teacher, I experienced that at certain times the character and maturity of group members were the most powerful factors.

Productivity is slightly higher under the authoritarian leader than under the democratic one, but it is lowest under the laissez-faire leader. Some studies indicate a sharp increase in productivity initially under authoritarian leadership. On the other hand, this was followed by drastic decreases in productivity over the long run. Finally these groups reached levels well below, compared to democratically led groups.36

What is Laissez-Faire Style


In this style a leader gives authority to employees. With the Laissez-Faire style, subordinates are allowed to work as they choose with minimum of interference. Communication flows horizontally among group members. 37 According to this description, the authority is completely shifted to the employee. This plays a significant part and therefore it creates a positive attitude on the side of subordinates. Nevertheless, there are some conditions that are required to achieve certain effectiveness. The most important requirement suggests that members of the group are working well on their own. In such case the leader makes a conscious decision to pass power to group members.38 This approach allows the group members freedom to achieve goals without leadership
34 35

Daft, The Leadership Experience, p. 44 Ibid, p. 44 36 Fred C. Lunenburg, Allan C. Ornstein, Educational Administration: Concepts and Practices (Thomoson Brooks/Cole, 2004), p. 126 37 Pride, Hughes and Karpoor, Business, p. 179 38 Capon, Understanding Strategic Management, p. 185

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interference. On the other hand, there is room for leader assistance being readily available if required.

The benefits of Laissez-Faire leadership style


A complete freedom for the group members belongs to a typical feature of laissez-faire style. Naidu describes it in these words. The laissez-faire leadership style involves complete freedom for a group with little or no leader participation. The group can develop their own goals and solve its own problems.39 The advantage of having no direct leader participation helps the group members to set their own goals, together with solving their own problems. Freedom without any interfere carries a powerful component for development. The following example shows the usage of this leadership. Leaders at Apple Computer employ a Laissez-Faire leadership style to give employees as much freedom as possible to develop new products.40

The opposite side of the coin brings a risky part to this approach. In some situations, not having a direct leadership might cause a lack of self-reflection and outside view on a situation. A creative professional environment is a benefit to this leadership style. Shell supports this idea by stating that professional are usually highly self-disciplined, they tend to do their best work with a minimum of interference, particularly if they maintain a lively interest in a variety of research problems. This is precisely what Laissez-Faire management provides.41

A laissez-Faire leader makes no attempt to regulate the group. He supplies the group with various materials to enable its members to accomplish group goals. He also provides the group information if asked.42 In this part, it is

39 40

Naidu, Public Administration: Concepts and Theories, p. 206 Pride, Hughes and Karpoor, Business, p. 179 41 Richard L. Shell, Shell Staff, Management of Professionals, (Ebooks Corporation: Taylor & Francis 2004), p. 198 42 Naidu, Public Administration, p. 206

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very close to the democratic style and the line is very hard to distinguish. Furthermore, the group members train themselves and provide their own motivation and the leader makes infrequent comments on their activities. 43 Certainly it carries benefit for subordinates, but then there is the question of how effectively it is accomplished.

The weaknesses of Laissez-Faire leadership style


Most groups seem to need more guidance than the laissez-faire leader gives. As a result, this style of leadership tends to result in a low level of group productivity and poor member satisfaction.44 Therefore there is only one type of group, that usually excels with this non-leader a group of highly trained, highly motivated experts (such as a group of vice presidents) who perform leadership roles themselves.45

The next weakness of this leadership style lies on the borders of positive approach. While decentralization of authority and creative freedom helps the organization to succeed in this style it suffers from a greater degree of disorganization and chaotic conditions in the work place. Naidu writes that as a result the group members may work at cross purposes, evade responsibility and lead to non-productivity. It makes the leader care-free and encourages him to evade responsibility. It is characterized by non-productivity.46 This style is generally not useful but, on the other hand can be effective under certain conditions. The most necessary condition for this approach would be a highly motivated and professional group.

43 44

Ibid, p. 206 Hamilton, Communicating for results, p. 289 45 Ibid, p. 289 46 Naidu, Public Administration, p. 206

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Other difficulties arise when realizing the manager does not care, does not get involved and deliberately keeps away from difficulties or trouble.
47

Generally said keeping away from difficulties is not correct, but practical life shows that it is not that simple. Keep away from difficulties is a natural tendency of all human kind. Therefore, this argument is not valid merely for this style, but for all leadership styles in general.

Finally, these leaders do not do an efficient job of relating the efforts of the subordinate group to the whole organization. When a product is completed, this may not be communicated effectively to the rest of the organization to the subunit for completing their task. Similarly, the recognition from the Laissez-Faire manager to subordinates for a job well done is often nonexistent. 48 The lack of communication about achieved goals to the rest of the organization results in discouragement and demotivation. Therefore, it is a feature that all leaders must avoid as much as possible.

To sum up The Laissez-Faire leadership can work when under strict conditions. Shell suggests these necessary conditions:

1. the job knowledge is self-contained within the subordinate unit 2. there is little intra-group dependency or cooperation needed to perform the task among unit members 3. the subordinates are highly educated self-initiators with high level of selfdiscipline.49

Additionally Laissez-Faire leadership can be combined with certain type of communication or feed back. That might be achieved by monthly reports delineating that months accomplishments. All the suggestions mentioned above dramatically increase the efficiency of the whole approach.

47 48

Capon, Understanding Strategic Management, p. 185 Shell, Management of Professionals, p. 198 49 Ibid, p. 198

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The following chart compares all the three leadership styles. Leadership styles of Principals Authoritarian and Task Oriented.50 AUTOCRAT PARTICIPATIVE FREE REIN

Leader

Leader

Leader

Employee

Employee

Employee

Which style/s would be potentially most effective in the church of the next twenty five years
The final part of this paper deals with the argument for potentially most effective leadership style in the church of the next twenty five years. In the light of all information given above it is evident that there is no style of leadership that is effective in all situations. Further more we are living in time of permanent change

50

Anju Mehrotra, Leadership Styles of Principals (Mittal Publications, 2005), p. 8

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as Leonard Sweet says Nothing is stable around us anymore. Status quo means death; perpetual innovation and change is life.51 According to Hammer and Champy, change is todays constant. In todays environment, nothing is constant or predictable not market growth, customer demand, product life cycles, the rate of technology change, or the nature of competition.52 Therefore, the most effective style will be highly connected with the ability to be flexible and to react in all important circumstances.

Although we said that the best leadership style depends on various factors, most researches agree that generally it is a democratic leadership style that is the most effective. It leads to good communication among members, it promotes group morale and positive results.53 The same conclusion is proved by subordinates who prefer the democratic style the best, which makes intuitive sense. The general trend today is toward wider use of participatory management practices because they are consistent with the supportive and collegial models of modern organization.54

Similarly, the same conclusion is found by Pride, Hughes and Kapoor, who claim that hundreds of research studies that have been conducted to prove which leadership style is the best and end up with no definite conclusions. The best leadership style seems to occur when the leaders style matches the situation. Each of the leadership styles can be effective in the right situation. The most effective style depends on interaction among employees, characteristics of the work situation, and the managers personality. 55 This claim leads us to

51 52

Leonard Sweet, Summoned to lead (Zondervan: Grand Rapids Michigan, 2004), p. 177 Hamilton, Communicating for Results, p. 289 53 Deanna D. Sellnow, Confident Public Speaking (Thomson Wadsworth, 2005), p. 446 54 Lunenburg and Ornstein, Educational Administration, p. 126 55 Pride, Hughes and Kapoor, Business, p. 179

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interaction among employees and personality.56 Therefore a cooperation and participative approach based on relationship will play a significant role in future.

Another fact is the role of the organizational circumstances in the future. Tannenbaum and Schmidt suggested that the extent to which leaders are bosscentered or subordinate-centered depends on organizational circumstances. This fact is more evident in the case of time pressure. If it takes too long for subordinates to learn how to make decisions, the leader will tend to use the autocratic leadership style.57 On the other hand, when the subordinates are able to learn decision-making skills readily, a participative style can be used.

Next fact is the willingness to develop, the zeal for leadership. The future is predictable merely to the point when we have the necessary information. Despite the fact that there is no assurance of a correct prediction we might be sure that successful leaders will be those who commit themselves to fully developing their leadership potential. All leaders need to strive continually to live their leadership capacity to the next level, no matter how difficult that is. We need to be willing to move out of our comfort zones, to learn new skills and disciplines, and even to submit to a process of retraining.58 It will be necessary to put ourselves on intense growth tracks, to read and reflect, to travel and seek training, to look for mentors, and to begin a non-stop search for the best leadership models we can find.59 Successful leaders will be courageous in applying the best practices to achieve high goals.

We must not neglect the spiritual part. Christian leadership is based on the Person of the leader. Especially the one with a God-centered spirituality. The leaders spirituality will directly impact his or her ability to define reality for those who follow as well as sustain the process of realizing the vision for Gods
56 57

Sweet, Summoned to lead, p. 168 Daft, The leadership experience, p. 44 58 Hybels, Courageous Leadership, p. 68 59 Ibid, p. 68

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Kingdom. A great leader sees the value of partnerships.60 Careers of the future will be based much less on progressing through an organization hierarchy than on progressing through many different project assignments that develop an individuals marketable skills.61

Conclusion
One of the harsher realities for church leaders is that experience is no longer an asset. And that idea runs counter to everything you have been taught about leadership. Too many church leaders are relying on strategies, methods, information, and systems that are so outdated as to be barriers to leadership. The tried and true was true when it was tried. It may be false today.62 Most researches agree that the democratic leadership style is the most effective and flexible. The general trend today is toward wider use participatory management practices because they are consistent with the supportive and collegial models of modern organization. Cooperation and participative approach based on relationship will play a significant role. Also willingness to develop, zeal for leadership and God-centered spirituality will influence the leadership as well.

60

M. Ford Cameron and Denis A. Gioia, Creative Action in Organizations: Ivory toner visions & real world voices (Sage Publications: Kalifornia, 1995), p. 5 61 Sweet, Summoned to lead, p. 161 62 Ibid, p. 162

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